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we are going plumb out of our minds over the world of plumbing

Fun fact: The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596, which is where we get the nickname “the John.” We also call the toilet “the crapper” because of Thomas Crapper, who widely increased the popularity of it.

We want to give a huge shout out to one of our favorites, Don Somerdyke with Peter Somerdyke Plumbing, who along with our very educated local plumbing showrooms, Ferguson & Richards, taught us a thing or two about the world of plumbing. Around 2008, when the economy went in the crapper (pun intended), many of our trades left our wonderful state and headed elsewhere. The trades in our industry have not yet been replenished and while we are certainly hopeful, we want to take a moment to urge anyone interested in skilled trades (plumber, electrician, heating and cooling, masonry, tile installer, carpentry, drywall, and many other cool careers) to go for it!

Plumbing is not just toilets, sinks and showers…

Do you know what a drain field is? Do you know how it works?

Did you know that each plumbing fixture is actually vented to the exterior. While there are other interior options for venting now, this is what makes up many of your roof vents?Those are for plumbing fixtures!

Do you know that homes can be heated with a water system (boiler or a wood boiler)?

Did you know that the current day average bathroom remodels eliminate bathtubs entirely and have gone to only showers in a home?

Did you know that there are codes in place that have made water saving a standard practice?

Did you know that the options for your shower control can be more than just “on” and “off” but that the actual specifics in your selections can make a big difference in how you control the water?

Did you know that it is un-true that southern hemisphere toilets water turns a different direction than the northern hemisphere? Let’s just lay this one to rest and tell you that both can turn either direction.

Did you know that when you use a plumbing showroom, your options to mix, combine, blend or choose from other pieces to make your own is an option? That may feel overwhelming but in the case of a toilet trip lever (the flushing lever), when purchased from a big box store, it’s a buy-as-you-see-it purchase and may not coordinate with your faucet style or finish. You have other options to make each selection coordinate (if that is your wish) when you use a plumbing showroom.

It’s often that we associate plumbing with the infinite number of gorgeous fixtures to choose from because of the end result. But it is important to know that there are many small and internal pieces can play a big role in your satisfaction. A common one that is not common knowledge has to do with faucets. We always recommend one that has a ceramic disc cartridge in them. That’s the actual functioning piece that can break or wear out if it is plastic and often the difference in pricing when you compare the same faucet from a plumbing showroom to the big box stores. When choosing your faucet, consider the fact that you will use your faucet daily and it controls water. A natural element that can cause major damage if it breaks.

As mentioned, we often think of the many beautiful and fun plumbing fixture options but designers take major considerations to in helping guide your fixture selections. Many thoughts start with but are not limited to these:

-spray functions, what do you like and do you want this on your main shower head, body sprays or on the handheld?


-do you want to have a handheld? If so, do you want this at the shower head, part of the actual shower head or on a glide bar


-do you want to turn on 1, 2 or 3 outlets together at one time?


-do you have the space for an elongated toilet or do you need to stay with a round front?


-do you wish to upgrade to a slow close lid?


-does a skirted two-piece toilet take priority over a traditional style with the look of pipes for ease of cleaning? It sure did in our house and daily I thank the bathroom cleaning gods for this smart choice!


-does the idea of eliminating the use of gas to heat your house sound appealing in considering a wood boiler?


-is your water heater efficient?


-do you like a softer wide stream with bigger droplets or a little more oomph behind that flow?


-does a bathtub make sense for your family needs or should that go to a different design that is easier to get into, like a shower?


-is a wet room design more fitting for your house?

Were you surprised to read that many homes have gone to showers only, eliminating bathtubs? We should state, that while it is common, it certainly is a personal preference. In considering a remodel with resale value, a bathtub will appeal to young families, but its often not a deal breaker.

Specifically, with a walk-in shower, there are some real show stoppers of beautiful bathroom inspiration floating on the world wide web. And, how you could you NOT drool over the beautiful tiles, shiny fixtures and all that space…but did you notice the plumbing fixture locations? Did you notice how some require you have to reach across the water stream path in order to turn on the faucet? Now, this may feel very “chicken or the egg” conversation in that if you are turning on the shower, you are going to get wet when you take a shower making this minor, however, for someone aging in place, that function could be unsafe. Personal preference will play a large role in this discussion but it certainly gives you something to discuss with your designer with some strategic solutions.

When your designer is discussing the layout for a tile shower, there are some key conversations to chat about:

1 - rain head vs. standard shower head…. there are pros and cons to each.

2 - how many total outputs you wish to have between the shower heads, body sprays, and handhelds. This will impact what needs to happen behind all that pretty tile.

3 - the size of the shower or wet room in relation to the drain system. Some will work better for certain designs than others and a plumber’s expertise will assure this is done properly.

4 - how many of the outputs do you want to have on at one time. Many times, the brand of the valve needs to go hand in hand with a certain valve, but never say never. Other valve options may allow the selections to work seamlessly, but are not part of the typically paired items, which is why it would be important to know this when making selections. The installation will come together beautifully when they have the proper information ahead of time.

5 – there are many moving parts and pieces to plumbing and the venting of plumbing so while the small contractor may allow you to purchase your plumbing fixtures on your own, keep in mind that missing pieces could trigger an opportunity for a delay on the project for extra trips to the plumbing or hardware store.

This is just the tip of what is considered for your plumbing needs that go hand in hand with what your design thinks of when helping you choose the best selection for you and your home. Is your head spinning yet? Ours did the first time too, and for that exact reason, is why we rely on our skilled trades to help inform us and guide us through solutions that include all of the details that are important but not seen. So, keep Don and his team at Peter Somerdyke Plumbing in your back pocket for the next time you need a plumber (http://petersomerdykeplumbing.com/) and know your designer is skilled in helping you select the right products that fit your plumbing needs.

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